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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old February 9 2014, 01:08 AM   #1
Robert Comsol
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What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

I expect the most popular answer to be “like in the episode Yesterday’s Enterprise” and that’s essentially the assessment of many participants in this Trek BBS thread (starting at post # 37). One of the things I really enjoy about the Trek BBS is the inspiration I draw from the debates, good and bad, and the aforementioned one made me wonder whether the effects of the temporal and interspatial anomaly from which the Enterprise-C came out in this episode shouldn’t first be examined more thoroughly before answering the question. But first things,first.

Part I – Design Histories of the Enterprise-C

The design of the Enterprise-C in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is noticeably different than the one on the conference lounge's sculpture wall featured visibly in many episodes during the first four seasons of TNG. Although the motif of the sculpture wall is obviously “ships named Enterprise” (because of the presence of the US Navy aircraft carrier CVN-65), it appears somewhat incomplete unless the artist wanted to limit the selection to “starships” – and what could be considered the equivalent from previous centuries.



But the spot between the Excelsior Starship Class Enterprise-B (obviously her final appearance and not the first, according to ST VII) and the Galaxy Starship Class Enterprise-D is taken by Andrew Probert’s design for the Enterprise-C, an obvious next step in design lineage from the “B” towards the “D” (Andrew Probert designed and supervised the final look of the TMP Enterprise and the TNG Enterprise-D and various other Star Trek items).



However, his design did not become “yesterday’s” Enterprise. How comes? Andrew Probert had created side views of various ships as guidance for the wall sculptor, including the Enterprise-C (above). And he had painted a visualization of the USS Fearless (below)for “Where No One Has Gone Before” to illustrate this starship class (first published and annotated in Star Trek – The Official Fan Club Magazine # 60, February 1988, in an article featuring the Star Trek Art Department and all its members), which was erroneously mislabeled in The Art of Star Trek as an early design for the Enterprise-D.



“It was done for a scene where the Enterprise was to rendezvous with this other ship. I didn’t want them to use a ship we’d already seen before (and I knew they wouldn’t spend the money to build another model) so I came up with that painting of a new design in order to establish that, parked in orbit, simply waiting for the Enterprise to get there.” (Andrew Probert)

According to the official explanation, those materials were no longer available during the pre-production of “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and because of time and budget restraints a different version had to be built by Greg Jein as a VFX model which then made it into this episode.

The designer of the “new” Enterprise-C, Rick Sternbach, never expressed or hinted any desire to excise Andrew Probert’s design from Star Trek canon with malice aforethought, so couldn’t or shouldn’t this have been an invitation to explore possibilities of co-existence of two different designs for the Enterprise-C and come up with an imaginative rationalization?

The popular explanation is simplistic, doesn’t acknowledge the wall sculpture to be canon, too (although it has been featured onscreen), and dismisses Andrew Probert’s Enterprise-C “as an artistic rendition intentionally or accidentally falsifying the ship's real look.”

(While it is obviously a changed premise, at best, or a continuity error, at worst, such a rationalization comes at the expense of real people – i.e. the original artists and producers who knew very well what they were doing and why. Andrew Probert or the wall sculptor most assuredly did not “intentionally or accidentally falsify the ship’s real look”.)

It is worth noting that the author of the above quote implies to know that the “real look” of the Enterprise-C is not the sculpture on the conference lounge wall, yet fails to consider one detail:

While we have seen an Enterprise-C in an alternate reality, we have never seen her in any episode within “our” “real” “prime” TNG time line / universe on screen. Not as a VFX model, not as a screen schematic, and not as a painting, but exclusively as that sculpture on the conference lounge wall of the Enterprise-D.

I believe it’s quite possible to have cake and eat it, too, i.e. find a palatable rationalization for two co-existing designs for the Enterprise-C which ultimately would be rather uniting than dividing. And the key may be this enigmatic temporal and interspatial anomaly that gave birth to “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.

To be continued in Part II (Alternate Realities)…stay tuned

Bob
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Old February 9 2014, 01:27 AM   #2
MacLeod
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

Wasn't the Ent-C as seen in TNG's "Yesterday's Enterprise" from the 'real' timeline? Isn't implied in the aforementioned episode that the point of divergence which caused that alternate timeline opccured after the Ent-C disappeared whilst defending the Klingon colony on Narendra III?

Perhaps the representations of them are somewhat stylised and not always a 100% representation of what the ship(s) actually looked like. Our perhaps another possible rationalisation is that at somepoint in her life the Ent-C underwent a major refit similar to what the NCC-701 underwent between TOS and TMP. And what we see in the observation lounge of the Ent-D was the orginal design.
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Old February 9 2014, 01:44 AM   #3
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

That makes sense to me, since we see the 1701 and the 1701-A on the wall, but not the 1701-refit. So if the -C was refit, we'd see the original design on the wall.
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Old February 9 2014, 02:28 AM   #4
Lance
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

^ The trouble with that theory is if we assume the Enterprise's depicted in the obs lounge display are their 'original' designs before refits, then the Enterprise-B should look like it does in GENS. But it doesn't. We can assume the 'B' on the models is a refit version, perhaps bringing it back more into line with the original Excelsior design. But again, that means we can't assume that the wall model depicts a 'pre-refit' fleet of Enterprises.

As boring as it is, I'm left thinking the best explanation is that whoever sculpted the wall model in-universe did a stylistic rendition of the ships, rather than an accurate one.
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Old February 9 2014, 02:35 AM   #5
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

All of the wall-ships are impressionistic. Not one of them accurately depicts the shape and proportions of the 'real' ships. I don't see how that leaves any point of contention.
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Old February 9 2014, 02:44 AM   #6
Dukhat
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
While we have seen an Enterprise-C in an alternate reality, we have never seen her in any episode within “our” “real” “prime” TNG time line / universe on screen. Not as a VFX model, not as a screen schematic, and not as a painting, but exclusively as that sculpture on the conference lounge wall of the Enterprise-D.
http://static3.wikia.nocookie.net/__...play_model.jpg

The display model in Star Trek: First Contact as one of the golden models in the display case in the observation lounge was a creation of John Eaves. "This was before eBay, so I went and scoured the hobby shops all the way from Los Angeles to PHX Arizona to find any and all kits of the Enterprises. What was available then was the Enterprise A, a TOS Enterprise that was too small so I opted to get the cutaway version that was substantially bigger, and the Ent. D. That left the "B", "C" and the new "E". For the "B" I grabbed one of the Playmates toy which was a good scale. For the "C" my friend Nelson tracked down a beautiful Garage kit that, too, was a good scale. For the "E", I had just finished making a big 28 inch study model for the producers here in LA and for the model guys and gals up at ILM. It was almost too big, but there was no time to sculpt another one so it had to do. Herman asked for 3 of each ship because we were now going to have the smashing of the case scene. In the end, we wound up making 6 of the "D's" and about 6 or 7 of the "C's" because it was the one that all the glass would fall on top of.", Eaves remembers on his blog. [5] Molds were taken of the model and solid resin casts copies were made (since there were multiple takes of the scene). After smoothing out the surfaces, the models were gold electroplated at ArtCraft Plating. The models were subsequently smashed when the scene was filmed.
Prologic9 wrote: View Post
All of the wall-ships are impressionistic. Not one of them accurately depicts the shape and proportions of the 'real' ships. I don't see how that leaves any point of contention.
Unfortunately, that usually doesn't stop obsessive-compulsive fans from coming up with ridiculously outlandish theories to explain quite minor things.
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Old February 9 2014, 02:46 AM   #7
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

Unless the -B originally DID look like a regular Excelsior-class, and after the first shakedown before they let civilians on board, someone said, "Hey, let's try something...."

Yeah. I don't buy it, either. Had to type it out to see how I felt about it, though, so here we are.
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Old February 9 2014, 04:03 AM   #8
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

Lance wrote: View Post
^ The trouble with that theory is if we assume the Enterprise's depicted in the obs lounge display are their 'original' designs before refits, then the Enterprise-B should look like it does in GENS. But it doesn't. We can assume the 'B' on the models is a refit version, perhaps bringing it back more into line with the original Excelsior design. But again, that means we can't assume that the wall model depicts a 'pre-refit' fleet of Enterprises.

As boring as it is, I'm left thinking the best explanation is that whoever sculpted the wall model in-universe did a stylistic rendition of the ships, rather than an accurate one.
There's also the fact that every later Ambassador class, like the Zhukov and the Yamaguchi, looks exactly like the Enterprise-C. So it's highly unlikely (IMO) that the C represents some alternate version the way the D is presented in "Yesterday's Enterprise."

Memory Alpha has a good realistic description of why the final model developed by Rick and Greg Jein has noticeable alterations from Andrew Probert's original concept. The model had to be built within a very short timeframe for filming YE, and details like the more rounded saucer and hull shapes were done because they would simplify the construction process. There wasn't enough time to create a model that would have been fully accurate to the more meshed edges on the Probert version.
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Old February 9 2014, 04:13 AM   #9
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

The truth behind the discrepancy: The version shown in "Yesterday's Enterprise" was the real McCoy; the version on the observation lounge wall was sculpted by a 24th-century descendant of Robert Comsol...one who was obsessed with an early, unused concept drawing of the Ambassador class.
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Old February 9 2014, 01:08 PM   #10
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

The Enterprises -B and -C see prior to "Yesterday's Enterprise" and Star Trek Generations were essentially placeholders, swapped out for the actual designs as they were realized. Here is a pic from 1993's "The Nagus", with the realized Enterprise-C from "Yesterday's Enterprise" but the conjectural Enterprise-B (none of the mods we saw in 1994's Generations) and warp prototype ship which eventually became the Phoenix in 1996's Star Trek: First Contact.


Saying the Enterprise-C 'really' looks as it does on the early concept is like insisting the refitted Enterprise from the classic movies really looks as it did in the Planet of the Titans or Star Trek Phase II concept art and models. Just like Probert's early version of the -C, they were developed but dropped. Neither ever became the USS Enterprise.

I find is strange Robert Comsol, that you can be so anti some retroactive additions to the Trek timeline (like Enterprise NX-01 or the USS Kelvin) yet insist Probert's early concept for the -C trumps what's on screen, especially since that concept was only recently realized for a Ships of the Line calender. http://www.modelermagic.com/?p=28446
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Old February 9 2014, 02:19 PM   #11
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

The E-C looks like it did in "Yesterday's Enterprise", which is the same as other Ambassador-Class ships seen in "Data's Day", "Redemption, Part 2", and "Emissary".

The model on the wall of E-D's observation lounge must've been poorly sculpted--just the same way the NX-01 wasn't displayed.

I love the design of the Ambassador-Class. Not a fan of the Probert design, so happy it wasn't used.
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Old February 9 2014, 06:31 PM   #12
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

In Generations, we see a picture of a large and not bald at all Robert Picard. So, this movie and Family are not in the same universe? In Parallels, which is actually about universes and not timelines, all the Enterprises seems to have the same design.
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Old February 9 2014, 07:09 PM   #13
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

Good point...it they can recast characters with different actors and we're supposed to assume that they've always looked like that, then why not the same with barely-glimpsed ship designs?

Hell, Spock's curly-haired stunt double drew more attention to himself onscreen than Probert's Ent-C on the wall....
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Old February 9 2014, 07:59 PM   #14
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

Armored Saint wrote: View Post
In Generations, we see a picture of a large and not bald at all Robert Picard. So, this movie and Family are not in the same universe? In Parallels, which is actually about universes and not timelines, all the Enterprises seems to have the same design.
Acting roles are recast all the time. That's been a common practice for decades. Thus it's understandable that a character might not look the same from one film to the next, because the same actor can't always be kept. And re-casting does not need to be explained, for that very reason.

As for the Enterprise-C? The only appearance that ship ever actually had was "Yesterday's Enterprise". And it wasn't just a fleeting glimpse, we saw it up close and personal as it were. Models and drawings don't count; the only appearance that matters is the actual use of the ship in an episode, and YE was it. Thus that is the only way that ship ever looked. The models depicted on the briefing room wall are irrelevant. Those are rough approximations, nothing more.
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Old February 9 2014, 08:53 PM   #15
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Re: What did the Enterprise-C look like in the real TNG universe?

You're absolutely right about the re-casting, but on the other hand, the character's faces are more noticeable than a little decorative element.

Robert Comsol, these backround details are interesting, but come one, trying to fabricate a continuity issue about that...
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